August 31st, 2012
02:50 PM ET

$337M Powerball winner plans to keep it real

Donald Lawson intends to do the typical lottery-winner stuff: Retire, take care of his family, travel, get a new place to live.

But the 44-year-old Michigan man insists his $337 million Powerball prize - the third-largest in Powerball history, and seventh-largest jackpot in U.S. history - won’t change him.

“I’m a millionaire now, but I’ll still go to McDonald’s,” Lawson told reporters Friday at the Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing, where he came forward to collect on the August 15 drawing. “I don’t like filet mignon or lobster. I like the simple life, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”

Lawson, of Lapeer, was the sole winner of the August 15 prize. He chose the lump-sum cash option, which gives him $224.6 million, before tax, at once.

He said he quit his railroad engineer job after learning he won. He said he chose the winning numbers - 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 with a powerball of 21 - himself at a Sunoco gas station in Lapeer.

“I walked into the … station, and usually there ain’t nobody up there, but there was a long line. But something from above - I do have to credit that - told me to go over there and pick my own numbers. I didn’t pick them - my hand just went,” Lawson said.

Lawson said his two children will now be set for college, and he told his close relatives to retire, “and they had no problem with that.”

He said he plans to travel a lot, but for now, he’s going to “go somewhere safe and think about (what to do) and go from there.”

“This money won’t last forever unless I use it right and budget it right. It’s not a lot, $337 million,” he joked, drawing laughter, before addressing the issue of taxes. “You all think it’s tremendous amount, but I’m kind of pissed at Uncle Sam … you know?”

Eight other tickets won the $1 million Match 5 prize on August 15. Two of those tickets were bought in Indiana, and the others in Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia, lottery officials said.

The game's largest prize to date was $365 million, which was awarded in 2006 to a group of eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant.

That record drawing happened when the cost for a Powerball ticket was $1. In January, the price increased to $2, with officials saying it would lead to an increased number of large jackpots. At the same time, the odds improved somewhat because officials reduced the number of red balls, the powerballs, from 39 to 35.

At $337 million, the Powerball pot still has ways to go to catch MegaMillions at the top of the list of U.S. grand prizes. In March, three tickets were sold for a drawing with the top prize of $656 million.

- CNN's Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Lotto • Michigan
soundoff (648 Responses)
  1. Its Going To Get Bigger

    Good for him!

    Live it up while those dollars are still worth something son!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CSM

    Hey!... Get a full gym membership before you get a heart attack.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pete

    He's going to catch lawsuits from poor desperate people just for breathing on them or looking at them wrong.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TheVocalAtheist

    Never a mention about a wife, just the two kids and close relatives. It would be supreme justice if he had a wife that left him because she thought he was a loser, a big boy playing railroad trains and eating at McDonald's, so she left him for some other man. That would be just desserts! At 44 and single with all that dough, he's set, never marry again there sonny boy! You'd be nuts to!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Den

    Talk about Robin Hood in reverse. Our government's lottery keeps taking from millions of poor people to make 1 individual rich!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    If you like the simple life, eat whole foods, not McDonald's lol. Just sayin'

    August 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shelby Brooke

    Pity he likes the simple life, cuz that life is OVER. You don't lead a simple life if you're managing that kind of money.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Al

    If you want to keep eating at McDonalds and want the simple life, then why bother playing the lottery?? I swear, the people that win these things are the dumbest people on Earth.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Of course – because you would have to be a moron to play / support the lottery system. The lottery is a regressive tax, one on those who can least afford to pay it. The lottery can talk about all the good things the money supports but the bottom line is they are enticing people who are mostly poor to part with their money, and these folks have essentially 0 chance of winning. But like they always say – "You can't win if you don't play" (although you probably definitely won't win).

      August 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      Yes, but how do you propose to pay the medical bills?

      August 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leigh2

    Yeah, he got about 9 dollars of mine, counting the number of times I played before the winning jackpot for that draw was actually drawn. I think he owes me at least one nice lunch out so I can recoup my losses. lol, JK. Best of luck to him and prayers for a happy future with his winnings. Hope he will find financial guidance to help him manage his winnings and not permit greedy goons and con artists lurking out there take advantage of him.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LadyPleides

    Congrats! A CPA, tax lawyer (that have great references) and do as you said, sit down and think about what you want to do. Oh, and you might want to hire someone to deal with mail. There will be a lot of sad stories (I.e. I've was laid off in 12/06, not a good time to be looking), and you don't want you heart to run away with your helping everyone. You and your wife keep loving, supporting and communicating with each other and you'll do great!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. E

    Look at all u haters... Big,small,hott or not all u mo fos are just mad cause it isn't you. Let him enjoy it whether it's one day or for ever. Those always haters when ur doin something right. At least he had a somewhat real job that would of paid him some retirement.... Congrats Mann!! E

    August 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jaysmot

    Pass the wealth around ... give us a bail out 🙂 I mean will you really not notice if you hand out 10k to everyone who can email you in the first 60 seconds or text you with a good reason why we need it. My mom needs surgery lol and my dog needs a kidney....

    August 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. innersixx

    He says the money wont change him yet he has quit his job and plans to travel. Yeah, that isn't a major change.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • What you own owns you

      It is a full time job keeping track of all of that money. The travel part is to keep ahead of the pan handlers.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bman

      I just wish I could like @what you own owns you. Regardless innersix I think your nines are shining around the edges too, consequently, I agree with both of you. Wealth is an isolater in these times.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. puckles

    Dude needs to hire a personal trainer with all that money.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ginalove40

    Why must one be called an idiot just because he doesn't like file mignon or lobster?? I mean, really?! You had no better comment to post than that? You have a sad existence. Or maybe you're just envy-stricken. whatever your mental case is, get a better life...


    August 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taskmaster

      reply to ginalove40: the people posting harsh remarks about Donald Lawson are all so eaten up with bitter jealousy they have to spew out the venom.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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